Thursday, August 14, 2008

Into Manitoba (Winnipeg)

I ended up on a sort of tour of Thunder Bay when trying to reach the Old Fort William by bus. Thunder Bay looks like a prarie town to me in terms of its street lay-out and the house designs. The bungalows are of the squarish, made of concrete and bricks design that was common throughout Edmonton, as opposed to the clap-board houses, bungalow or two-story, of the Maritimes.

After Thunder Bay, the drive out of Ontario took another 7 hours, with only some very small towns scattered along the way. I know Canada's big, but nothing hammers home that fact like the seemingly never ending highway stretching across forest. We got into some gentle, rocky hills that the highway was blasted through (they were removing more rock around Upsula to widen the road), then Kenora, nearly at the Manitoba border and looking part eastern, part western in building style. Then I was finally in the "west" of the country, after more than 45 hours of road travel from Charlottetown (I subtracted rest time from that while doing mental math on the drive from the border to Winnipeg).

What with arriving in "Friendly!" Manitoba, that only leaves two provinces I've not yet been to (BC and Newfoundland), and those two will be knocked off by September 1 anyway.

Winnipeg looked to be the dodgiest Canadian city I've been in. By that, I mean there was more scruffy, looking down-on-their-luck folks wandering around the downtown then I've seen elsewhere. I did notice on the bus out of Thunder Bay that the percentage of dirty, smelly passengers increased dramatically.

I can see how the intersection of Portage and Main could be so windy and cold in the winter - even in the sweltering heat when I was there, it was still quite windy on Main Street. I wandered around the city for the day, down to The Forks where the muddy Red River (as I know it, the one that always floods) meets the Assiniboine River (also muddy). Checked out the Exchange District which has old skyscrapers, and Chinatown that seemed almost deserted.

People in western Ontario and Manitba keep telling me about how great they think PEI is and Islanders in general. Makes a nice change from the reaction I've come to expect from Westerners towards East Coasters. My experience was mostly based with Albertans, though.

Oh, and the ride into Winnipeg wasn't actually all flat plains until just before the city - there were trees and hills for a fair while.

Un-edited photos can be found in My Photos 2

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